fine writing

No, not what I write here, but I finished reading a Kurt Vonnegut book last night – Cat’s Cradle. It’s the first Vonnegut book I’ve read, and was very powerful for its insight, and its compact power. In a nutshell the narrator is writing a book on the “father of the bomb” and what happened on the day that the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. It turns out that this Dr Hoenikker also created a form of ice which freezes any water it touches at room temperature – a deadly weapon as of course its effects spread uncontrollably. So the narrator becomes involved with Hoenikker’s bizzare children, leading to a slightly predictable but nonetheless dramatic conclusion. Along the way Vonnegut invents an island nation and a religion. It’s quite spooky in many ways, and as many of the best books do, resonates today, especially when he ironically says how important it is to record history, so that people will read and learn and not repeat the same mistakes. Although it seems that in many ways it is important for people to make their recordings of history known, as this Slate article about the Cuban missile crisis and its effects on the Vietnam war demonstrates.

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